Gay activists are giving Rick Warren the full treatment, accusing him of homophobia and hate speech and of comparing gay marriage to incest. None of this is true, as the mainstream press will eventually get around to mentioning, perhaps as early as next week.
Warren supports full rights and privileges for civil unions -- health and insurance benefits, visiting rights, etc. -- and has done so for some time. He simply does not want to alter a definition of marriage that has been supported in every culture and every religion for some 5,000 years. A large majority of Americans feel that way. Are they all "homophobes" or do they just have a conception of marriage different from that of gay activists?
Warren points out that no practical benefit for gays is involved in the Proposition 8 ruckus -- in California, all the benefits of marriage were extended to gays in 1999 under a domestic partnership law.
Does Warren really think gay unions are like incest? No. Talking to Steve Waldman of BeliefNet, Warren offered a list of partnerships that he doesn't believe qualify for the term "marriage": a committed boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, "a brother and sister being together, an older guy marrying a child and a guy having multiple wives."
It is not a bright idea to denounce as a hater and bigot a person as widely admired around the country as Rick Warren, especially when he shows no indication of hate or bigotry and has contributed millions to the fight against AIDS. It is also not bright to denounce black people as "niggers" for voting 70 percent in favor of Prop. 8, as happened at a few rallies in California, with some of the n-words directed even at black gays sensibly trying to ward off such attacks by wearing anti-Prop 8 t-shirts.
Blacks voted heavily for Prop. 8 because they do not see it as a civil rights issue. If blacks don't agree with gay activists on this, it's no surprise that the rest of the country doesn't see a civil rights issue here either. Alas, gays may be locking themselves into a strategy of denouncing and attacking the people they should be trying to win over. Rick Warren says, "Gays in California already have their rights. What they desire is approval and validation from those who disagree with them and they are willing to force it by law if necessary."
Prop. 8 and its aftermath are the first time in the four decades since Stonewall that the gay movement has started to look like an organized tantrum -- ugly threats, anti-black rhetoric, intimidation and harassment of Mormons (called "morons") at their homes and temples, even a series of fake anthrax mailings. If gays want to veer away from this path, dropping the "Rick Warren is a hater" rhetoric would be a nice start.